It embodies a tradition stretching back to England’s brief but inspiring republican experiment during the civil wars of the 17th century, and before that to Renaissance Italy and Republican Rome.
Central to it is the notion of “neo-Roman liberty”: of liberty as freedom from domination, from dependence on another’s will.
In the modern economic climate it is necessary that the United Kingdom remains intact to avoid economic and political collapse.
However, I also believe that devolution is a necessary reform to appease the nationalists who would otherwise (and still do, in lesser numbers) call for independence.
From the late 18th century to the early 20th, Britain’s political class wrestled with an Irish Question: how could the British state govern “John Bull’s Other Island” in a way that kept the native Irish quiescent, without jeopardising its own security?
When Ireland was partitioned in 1921 the question disappeared from the British political agenda – only to reappear in another guise during the Troubles in Northern Ireland half a century later.
It stayed lost after the Conquest; and indeed, the Norman rulers of England pushed further into Wales than their Anglo-Saxon predecessors had done. Henry II, William the Conqueror’s great-grandson, ruled a vast Continental empire stretching from the English Channel to the Pyrenees, as well as England.
Inept kings, uppity barons, an aggressive church, restive peasants, a century-long war with France and bitter dynastic rivalries undermined his achievement.
I think there is, but I can’t pretend that it is easy or comfortable.
It is republican in spirit – which does not entail getting rid of the monarchy, as the many Continental monarchies show.